Central London is coming out in celebration of 50 years of Pride, and the first anniversary of the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Flag, which will adorn our iconic curve with a whole rainbow of colours in support of the LGBTIQ+ community this June and July.
A brief introduction to some of the Pride flags
1978: The PRIDE rainbow flag was created by Gilbert Baker as a symbol for hope and move for visibility. Each colour was given a different meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, indigo for serenity and violet for spirit.
1999: The Trans flag was created by Monica Helms to represent gender identity and expression.
2013: The Intersex flag was designed by Morgan Carpenter, to represent variations in sex characteristics.
2017: Under the leadership of American civil rights activist Amber Hikes, Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs updated Baker’s original rainbow design with black and brown stripes to represent people of colour in the LGBTIQ+ community.
2018: Daniel Quasar combined the new rainbow design and the Trans flag to create the Pride Progress flag, which also represents those living with HIV and AIDS.
2021: Valentino Vecchietti added the Intersex Flag to the Progress Flag to create the Intersex-Inclusive Pride flag.
Q&A with flag designer, Valentino Vecchietti
We sat down with the creator of the Intersex-Inclusive Pride flag, award-winning intersex equality campaigner, writer, artist, and presenter Valentino Vecchietti to understand more about why Pride and representation are still so vital.
1. What led you to design the Intersex-Inclusive Pride flag and why are flags important?
I created intersex inclusion on the Pride flag to bring my community joy, and to create greater allyship and support for people with intersex variations in the wider LGBTIQ+ community. At the time, my community were feeling the isolation of lockdown, and in the UK we had just discovered that we weren’t included in the 2021 Census. I knew I needed to do something bold to raise intersex visibility, and the flag presented a beautiful tool of allyship. I posted the flag on Instagram, a journalist tweeted about it, and my flag went viral. It was amazing, people all over the world were saying, ‘Yes, we’re here for intersex inclusion’.
2. For those who may not know, what is intersex?
Intersex is an umbrella term for naturally occurring variations in sex characteristics. Sometimes this can be apparent in our primary sex characteristics, or it can become apparent at puberty – so we can find out at different times in our lives. Intersex people comprise about 1.7% of the population which in the UK is over 1.1 million, and over 130 million worldwide.
Sex characteristics are distinct from gender identity and sexual orientation. But we can experience many of the same oppressions in society, and so we can really benefit from the allyship and solidarity of the LGBTIQ+ community. Pride season is a great time to raise awareness.
3. You founded Intersex Equality Rights UK, can you tell us a little more about this?
Intersex Equality Rights UK is an Intersex-led organisation, which campaigns for inclusion, equity and representation in all spheres of society. Although sexual orientation and gender identity is included in the Equality Act 2010, sex characteristics are not, and because of this we are also not included in hate crime legislation. We’re working to gain legal recognition, and protections.
I founded Intersex Equality Rights UK at the end of 2019 so we were trying to evolve as we entered the COVID lockdown – it has been a really challenging time.
Throughout the last two years we've done most of our work online, so it's wonderful to do in-person events and to finally be able to be part of Pride celebrations again. I was delighted to work with The Crown Estate on the installation of Pride flags on Regent Street for the first time in its history. It feels amazing to see visible intersex inclusion in the heart of London this year. It matters so much to feel represented and included, especially for our intersex youth.
4. How do you mark Pride month and what does Pride mean to you?
Pride is a time for us to celebrate and feel the joy of being ourselves in all our diversity. It is also a protest and many remarkable activists have bravely fought for the gains we have today – but there is still so much more to do. I'm a lesbian, I was born with an intersex variation, and I use she and they pronouns, but people with intersex variations can identify as straight or as LGBTIQ+. As a community we love to see our intersex flag. And it's joyful to now be represented on the LGBTIQ+ Pride flag.
5. What can people do to make others feel more included and welcome? Any words to live by or practices to follow?
You can find out more by watching my film lecture: Intersex Stories: Activism, Resistence and Being and by reading my monthly intersex column in DIVA magazine. Intersex Awareness Weeks run from 17th October to the 13 November, with Intersex Awareness Day (#IAD) on 26th October, and Intersex Day of Remembrance (#IDoR) on 8th November.
You can follow me on Instagram at @Valentino_Vecchietti and my organisation at @Intersex_Equality_Rights_UK, and at @ValentinoInter and @WeAreIERUK on Twitter. You can also download and use the flag yourself after answering three simple questions.
Whether we want to be loud and proud about being intersex or part of the LGBTIQ+ community, or whether we are more private, please remember, never out somebody, always make space for people to make choices for themselves. We are not a homogenous group - but we all share the need to live safely and to be given the opportunity to thrive.
6. We have to ask, what do you love about central London?
I am a huge fan of South-Korean fashion and K-pop. My favourite group is BTS! I love wearing oversized, white apparel. I am hugely inspired by the window displays on Regent Street and enjoy finding unique ways to express my authentic self.
Flags are important cultural symbols, and I cannot wait to walk along Regent Street while it is adorned with our beautiful flags, knowing how much joy they will bring to my LGBTIQ+ community. It really is a dream come true.
Pride in our neighbourhood
This year, the route of Pride in London parade will follow the historic route from the first 1972 parade, heading down Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus through St James’s to Whitehall. Delve into memories of Pride with our photo gallery with GAY TIMES.
Joining the march on 2 July? Share your photos with us this year at @RegentStreetW1 and @StJamesLondon on Instagram.